Richard Pierce

Life, Politics, Writing

Day 304

My first verified 5k speed walk since May today. When I say verfied, it’s the only route that I’ve measured using Maps, and know it’s just over 5km long. Done while the sun was shining, too, which made me feel quite upbeat. And now it’s dark, of course, and it’s only six, and quite depressing, really. Cosiness doesn’t come into it when we’re so deprived of daylight. More daylight speed walks beckon.

I had planned to publish a book this year, but what with catching covid, day job being manic in this final quarter, and being very busy on the family front, this is looking less and less likely, which is a shame. But I can’t, in all honesty, launch a book if I can’t dedicate time to publicity, awareness raising, and all those associated things that writers nowadays need to do themselves. And I don’t have the wherewithal to hire a PR company to do these things for me. I think what a lot of people don’t realise or appreciate is that writing books does take time (and therefore money), and that writers deserve to be compensated for the time they spend writing and marketing. That’s another reason Aggie will disappear at the end of November, so that I can focus on the ending, so that the ending will not be in the public domain for free, and so that I can put her together a s a proper book to be released in summer 2023 (possibly). The book I had been hoping to get out this year is the sequel to Dead Men, especially as it’s the 10th anniversary of that being published.

There are reams to be written about what is happening in politics in the UK right now, today, but I think I’ll leave that to those better qualified than me, less visceral than me, and with a greater sinsight into the political scene. Suffice to say that when Braverman claims she is the victim of a “political with hunt,” that’s a phrase straight out of the Trump and Johnson playbooks (well, the same playbook essentially), and it bodes ill. Let’s just also be aware that a refugee centre in England was attacked with petrol bombs yesterday, and that the alleged perpetrator is suspected to have had extreme rightwing leanings. These leanings, these evil and malevolent racist beliefs, have been encourage by people like Braverman and her like, and it’s intolerable. Let me repeat again – at this point, asylum seekers are not illegal immigrants (although the Conservative party is striving to make them so at the same time as it refuses to take up France’s offer of setting up asylum processing centres in France). In my view, no immigrant should be illegal – the current approach if vilifying any foreigner lets the black market in immigration rackets and dangerous Channel crossings thrive. And it’s inhuman. The Braverman debate is still going on as I write this – what’s happening in the House of Commons right now shows how unfit the Conservative Party is to govern.

I miss kindness in public life. Instead, we have lies and deliberate untrue vitriol deliberately spread as a signal to right-wing extremists that they can attack anyone who is different. It’s shameful.



The hours pass. She feels them drift along ever so slowly, forces herself to keep her eyes closed, her breathing deep and regular. She’s grown accustomed to this charade she has to play so that no-one thinks she’s an oddity, so that no-one thinks she’s abnormal. She’s quite grateful to cirumstance for forcing her to dye her hair dark. She’d never thought of it, never thought of changing her appearance to seem less if a freak in a freak in the way she looked, has always been proud of being an Albino, of being the other, although she’s also always been aware of how society so easily recoils from those who aren’t what it considers mainstream in looks or colour or orientation or thought. Is that what Valentine is trying to do, to commit genocide of anyone who doesn’t fit into his vision of perfection? It’s a frightening and dreadful thought.

Aggie can hear the thing next to her breathing. He must be on standby or whatever it is when robots are switched off remotely. The thought crosses her mind that there might be a way of disrupting his communications with the real Valentine, but she can’t be a hundred percent sure that those communications would be disrupted, and she doesn’t want to endanger the other passengers or crew on this plane hurtling across the Atlantic now, bound for what is essentially the other side of the world. If Valentine is still monitoring her, he’d be able to tell in a fraction of a second what she was up to if she did try to destroy the thing, and then the explosion would follow.

Only three and a half hours gone. Aggie can tell without looking at her watch. There’s a hum of conversation from further back in the plane now. People have had their post-breakfast nap, and most of them, even if they’re flying Economy, have probably got their laptops out, trying to look industrious, meaningful, busy. Aggie gets up t go to the toilet.

Valentine’s hand leaps out at her, the fingers of his left hand coiling around her wrist. ‘No, you don’t,’ he hisses. ‘Sit down.’

‘I need the loo,’ she says. ‘Are you really going to draw attention to yourself more than you’ve already done by letting me wet myself?’

‘Two minutes,’ he says. ‘No more. Otherwise I’ll come looking for you.’

‘You’ve abviously never had a girlfriend. Otherwise you’d know it takes longer than that.’

‘I mean it.’

‘I’ve promised to play your game. What more do you want? To make everyone aware of what and who you are?’

The robot drops his hand. ‘Maybe you’re right. Part right, anyway. Don’t want people getting the wrong idea, do we?’

‘No, you don’t. You really don’t.’

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’

Aggie sits down again. ‘I’m going to say this only once, and then you can do with the thought what you want while I go to take a leak.’ She breathes in deeply, hopes this won’t provoke the robot or the real Valantine. ‘Do you know he just makes your kind explode if he doesn’t get what he wants? Do you know you’re packed with undetectable explosives so he can use you as a weapon of last resort if you don’t achieve what he wants you to achieve? Think about that.’

The robot’s face drops. ‘You’re lying. He’d never do that. We’re free beings.’

‘Is that a fact? That’s why you slept, is it? Look at your watch.’ She gets up and walks off, and prays that the plane will still be in one piece by the time she gets back to her seat.

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